John presents kind of a simple argument in the first part of the fifth chapter of his first letter. Premise One: Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God (5:1a). Premise Two: Everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world (5:4a). Thus, the victory that overcomes the world is our faith (5:4b). Pretty straight forward. Pretty incredible.
But really, is it that simple? With all that’s going on in our world . . . with the darkness around us that increasingly says that what’s wrong is right, and what’s right is wrong . . . with the spreading callousness which denies the creator and thus the sanctity of His creation . . . with the increasing violence at home and abroad . . . can victory really be found in something as intangible as what we believe? Apparently!
For it’s not just that we have faith, but what our faith is in. Not just that we believe something, but that we believe in Someone . . . . Jesus the Christ . . . Jesus the Son of God. And it’s not some faith of our own making . . . not some fanciful story of our own design. In fact, concerning the truth of who Christ is and what He has done, there are three that bear witness . . . and I make four.
This is He who came by water and blood–Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that He has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. (1John 5:6-10a ESV)
There is the witness of the water, His baptism. His self-identification with those He came to rescue culminating in the heavenly declaration by the Father who sent Him. A thundering voice from heaven echoing over Him as He was lifted out of the Jordan, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
There is the witness of the blood. A divine reality settling over the city as Jesus was crucified. The skies darkened as He who knew no sin became sin for us. And when the work was finished, when the blood, once shed for eternal redemption, flowed, the earth shook, the temple curtain was torn in two, graves were thrown open, and heaven’s declaration was uttered through a lone centurion, “Truly this was the Son of God.”
And there is the witness of the Spirit. The Third Person of the Godhead silently, yet convincingly, bearing witness that Christ is the Son, that He came as the Lamb, and that He rose from the grave in triumphant declaration that sin and death had been defeated.
The water, the blood, the Spirit. They all testify. They all agree. Jesus is the Son of God come to save the world.
There are three . . . and I make four. For I too have the testimony in me.
Indwelt by the Spirit of revelation and illumination, I know, by God’s grace, these things to be true, as well. I may not be the most studied, nor the most learned, nor the most articulate, but I am most regenerated. Though once I was an enemy, now I am a son. Though once I was blind, yet know I see. Though once I was content with darkness, now I hunger for marvelous light. Though once I was far off, yet now I draw near. Though once I knew nothing, now I abide with Him who knows everything–the Alpha and the Omega.
You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart.
There are three . . . and I make four.
By God’s grace . . . and for God’s glory!